RESIDENTS fear they may not be able to sleep if the operating hours of a local sawmill are extended to 24 hours a day.

BSW Timber, which has a sawmill at Cargo, has submitted a plan to Carlisle City Council to remove previous application restrictions limiting the operating hours of its site.

In the application, the firm says the introduction of the northern relief road has enabled commercial traffic to access their site directly from the M6 and that commercial vehicles no longer need to use the local minor roads to get access to the wider transport network.

At the time of the original consent for the site, says BSW Timber, the noise level restrictions were put in place to protect nearby residents, but the improvements in infrastructure mean it is no longer necessary.

Current restrictions limit hours of operation to between 6am and 10pm Monday to Friday, 8am until 6pm on Saturday and not at all on Sunday or bank holiday.

The movement or operation of vehicles, deliveries and operations at the sawmill are currently restricted.

City councillor for the area, Gareth Ellis, has received concerns from nearby residents about the potential for extra noise resulting from the change.

Mr Ellis says residents can hear the background noise from the site until 10pm and fear that their ability to sleep may be affected by any increase in operating hours.

He explained: “They told me it would be a nuisance to them.

“They know when the work has stopped and the background noise stops. They think this would impact their sleep.

“The restrictions on the vehicle movement would also be removed through the planning application.

“I don’t think a lot of residents are aware of the issue, so I want to raise awareness of it.”

Mr Ellis is hoping that an agreement can be reached.

“Hopefully a compromise can be reached that means the site doesn’t operate the full night, but it can deliveries.”

It is important, says cllr Ellis, that economic growth does not come at the expense of residents.

“It is great that businesses want to expand, that is great for the city as it is economic growth, but we need to make sure it is not a nuisance to residents.”

The Carlisle sawmill was opened in 1991, costing £10m. The firm also has sawmills in Newbridge-on-Wye, Southampton, Dalbeattie, Petersmuir, Fort William and Boat of Garten – as well as one in Riga, Latvia. Carlisle City Council received the application on July 19.

So far no objections have been submitted to the council in relation to the proposals.

When approached by the News & Star, BSW Timber declined to comment. The application reference number is 19/0556.